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12 Questions: Samuel Johnson

It was such a pleasure to meet with Samuel when he dropped off the work for the upcoming exhibition, "Rupture". I could tell right away he was a thoughtful, sensitive person and I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did. Come see his wonderful forms and dark textural drawings up now through April 27th.

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poems for Men by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade

A Little Book on the Human Shadow by Robert Bly

The essays by Rob Barnard (Potter)

2.     What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

I work primarily in two locations.  My pottery studio is a small renovated building next to my house. My drawing studio is in an office about a mile away from my house.  I’ve found that its best to keep the two spaces apart from each other for both practical and psychological reasons. I don’t want to get the paper dirty with clay and the process to work in either medium (pottery or drawing) requires its own sensitivity and approach.  I try to work between the two spaces throughout the day, but in reality its more likely that I’ll put energy into one area for a while more than the other.   

 3. What is your most unusual habit?

Most days I plan to go to the studio early but I usually find reasons to ding around until 9 am or so.  I’ll do it even under a tight deadline.

4. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

I think it would be interesting to see what Robert Ryman would do with a portrait.

5. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office?

I make a lot of my tools for work in in clay, so I generally feel that if something were lost, I could figure out a way to make another.  But that said, I have a low momentum, light weight, wooden kick wheel that I really love to work on.

6. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

I try to work most days.  I’ve learned that even when I’m tired or overwhelmed or uninspired I can trick myself into working if I poke my head into my studio and hang out for a few minutes.  Once in the space I usually think of something to do.  There are other tricks.  Sometimes I’ll turn the lights on before I leave the studio, knowing that I’ll have to come back later to turn the lights off, and that generally means that I’ll find something to do before leaving for the night.  Another trick is to always stop just before running out of things to do.  I try to force myself to leave just before the work for the day is complete so I have something to start with the next time I begin to work. 

7.What is the most inspiring place you have been to?

Imbe or Tanegashima Japan.  La Borne, France.  Copenhagen, Denmark.  

8. Do you collect anything?

I like to collect pottery by potters that I admired, tools and books related to my work.   

9. What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would have liked to have talked with myself about how to deal with teachers and mentors. I found myself either in a contentious or subordinate relationship with them.  In hindsight, I wish I would have been better at reading and drawing out their particular gifts.   

10.   Who/What influences your work? 

I’m interested in seeing structure and its disruption in artworks. And generally prefer contemplative and enigmatic works. I like to feel the impact of an artwork before I have an sense of what it might mean or be about.  Generally, knowing what a thing is about is pretty boring.    

11/12.   Share an inspiring image.

Samuel's pieces in "Rupture"

Exhibition Opens 3/1/19

Show runs 3/1/19-4/27/19

For more images please follow us on Instagram:


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